by John Anthony Coughlan, Dublin, Sunday 27th September 2009
There has been massive interference by the European Commission in Ireland’s Lisbon referendum re-run over the past month, as never happened before in the country’s EU referendums. The re-run referendum takes place on Friday next.
This culminated in a 16-page propaganda Supplement on the EU being inserted in every Irish Sunday newspaper today. This must have cost several million euros - using European and Irish taxpayers’ money to influence Irish voters to ratify the Lisbon Treaty and in the process expand the power and functions of the Brussels Commission itself.
The European Commission is acting unlawfully under European law, as the Commission has no function whatever in relation to the ratification of new Treaties. These are exclusively a matter for the EU Member States, which are called upon to ratify new Treaties “in accordance with their own constitutional procedures”. The EU Commission’s functions relate only to Treaties that have been already ratified.
Mr Jens-Peter Bonde, former Danish MEP and editor of “The Lisbon Treaty: The Readable Version”, has written the article below analysing the content of the European Commission’s 16-page supplement inserted in today’s Irish Sunday newspapers. You may find it of interest.
The European Commission’s action is almost certainly unlawful so under Irish law, as some of the money used to finance this newspaper Supplement will have come from Irish taxpayers on both sides in the referendum. The Irish Supreme Court’s decided in the 1995 McKenna case that it was unlawful to use taxpayers’ money to further one side in a referendum.
Below is a criticism by Jens-Peter Bonde of some key points in the European Commission’s propaganda Supplement. Mr Bonde is an acknowledged authority on the EU Treaties and was a member of the Convention which drew up the original EU Constitution which was rejected by the French and Dutch in referendums in 2005 and which is now embodied in the Lisbon Treaty.
He is not interested in making partisan points about the Treaty, but in drawing attention to the legal facts of what is in it.
The European Commission acts illegally in Ireland
By Jens-Peter Bonde
Member of the European Parliament 1979-2008 and member of the two Constitutional conventions, editor of “The Lisbon Treaty: The Readable Version” and the internet lexicon: euabc.com
On Sunday 27 September the European Commission placed a 16-page propaganda supplement in all Irish newspapers as a paid insert.
This is an unlawful use of European taxpayer`s money, since the European Commission has no competence whatever in the ratification of treaties.
The Commission is positively misleading on the single topic it should know best about, the appointment of the Commission itself.
“Contrary to the existing (Nice) Treaty, the Commission will continue to be formed of one Commissioner from every Member State”, the first page of the Introduction states.
On the contrary, the Nice Treaty provides in Art. 213.1 TEC: “The Commission must include at least one national of each of the Member States”. This is the law today. The European Commission`s statement about the Nice Treaty is simply false.
The aim of a smaller Commission can be found in the Protocol on Enlargement. This proposes a reduction in the Commission when the EU reaches 27 member states. This is only a proposal. It is still not the law. The Protocol states in Art. 4.2.1: “The number of Members of the Commission shall be set by the Council, acting unanimously”.
There was an attempt to achieve the aim of a smaller Commission by the draft Constitution reducing the number of Commissioners to 2/3 of the member states. This attempt failed when the Constitution was rejected by 55% of French and 62% of Dutch voters.
The attempt was then repeated in the Lisbon Treaty. It failed in the first Irish referendum when 53 % of the Irish voters rejected it on 12 June 2008.
Therefore, Ireland and everyone else can keep their Commissioner until the Irish and all other Governments vote for a reduction in the Commission. This is the simple fact in the existing Treaty.
The Lisbon Treaty reduces the Commission to 2/3 of the number of member states on a rotation basis. That will become the law after a Yes vote.
Then there is a political promise from 27 Prime Ministers to keep one commissioner for each state. This promise binds the current Prime Ministers politically, but not necessarily their successors.
This compromise may also be altered if there are further enlargements, as suggested by the Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on 6 September in the Irish Times.
“One Commissioner for everyone” is not in the Treaty which Irish voters are voting on. I guess it may come about when all member states will formally agree on a later amendment. But it is not part of the Lisbon Treaty, as the Irish voters are being told by the European Commission.
I expect all member states to agree to have one Commissioner for each member state in the next Commission - but not for ever.
The political reality is that the next Commission will have 26 members PLUS an EU foreign minister who will either be a kind of observer if there is a No vote or a full Commission Vice-President if it is a Yes. The Swedish Prime Minister and President of the European Council told the Irish Times that this 26+1 formula had already been agreed informally among diplomats. All member states will therefore be represented in the next Commission, or else one of them will have the more attractive job of foreign minister whether the Irish vote Yes or No. There is legal certainty about having an Irish Commissioner with a No vote. There is uncertainty with a Yes - not now but after further EU enlargement. This is a fact. The Commission`s propaganda supplement is fiction.
It is also worth noting that the non-elected Commission finds no space in its 16 pages to explain how it will increase its powers and its monopoly of initiating EU laws in a wide range of new areas.
It does not explain how the new Art. 290 TFEU gives new implementing powers to itself.
It does not explain how Art. 217.7 TFEU may permit the Commission to change international agreements without the approval of the elected members of any parliament.
It does not mention the most important change regarding the Commission, its own mode of appointment. Under Nice each member state Government “proposes” its “own” Commissioner. Under Lisbon they can only put forward “suggestions”.
The decision on who will come from each country will lie with the Commission President and 20 of 27 Prime Ministers representing 65 % of the EU`s population.
This radical and important change will make the Commission even less accountable to voters than it is today. It replaces the present bottom-up procedure by a top-down one post-Lisbon.
There is not a word about this in the Commission`s supplement.
The content is hand-picked for Irish voters. The new clause on “distortion of competition” on taxes in Art. 113 TFEU and the new Art. 311 TFEU providing for new taxes for the EU itself are disguised by the sentence: “…it protects the rights of each Member State, especially in sensitive areas such as taxation and defence”.
The supplement entirely ignores the new “solidarity” clause on mutual defence in Art. 42.7 TEU and the clause requiring states “progressively to improve their military capabilities” in Art. 42.3 TEU.
There is not a word on the most important change in the Treaty, the shift of voting power from small to big member states.
Under Lisbon, the six largest member states will increase their share of the vote in the Council from 49% today to over 70%. The 21 smallest countries will reduce their combined share from 51% to less than 30%.
Ireland will halve its vote from 2.0% today to 0.9%.
This is being kept secret from Irish voters in all public information being issued to them - paid for by their own taxpayer`s money - before their Lisbon referendum re-run on this Friday, 2 October 2009.
The Lisbon Treaty can be downloaded for free at euABC.com.
Addition: Patricia McKenna, chairperson of the People’s Movement, has described a 16-page propaganda supplement paid for by the EU Commission which was published in today’s Sunday newspapers, as ‘an unlawful use of European taxpayers’ money’ and as a breach of Irish law in relation to the conduct of referendums. Read the full statement here.